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Candice Brown – ‘Happy Cooking’ review

The ‘Bake Off’ winner is back with another stunning collection of recipes.

Candice Brown - Happy Cooking
Credit: Ebury Press

Candice Brown rose to fame when she won ‘The Great British Bake Off’ in 2016. Since her win the former teacher released her first book ‘Comfort: Delicious Bakes and Family Treats’ in 2017 and has kept busy with live food demonstrations, TV appearances and virtual cookalongs. In December 2018, Brown bought The Greenman Pub in Eversholt with her brother Ben, carrying on the family vocation following her parents running pubs as she grew up. Now, Brown has released her second book ‘Happy Cooking’, which promises ‘easy uplifting meals and comforting treats’ on the cover.

The beautifully designed book is split into six sections – ‘Quick pick-me-ups’, ‘Simple comforts’, ‘Keep-your-hands-busy cooking’, ‘Food that takes care of itself (and you)’, ‘Nostalgia food’ and ‘Say it with cake’ – and opens with a very personal introduction from Brown where she writes openly about her mental health and how cooking is linked to it. That honesty and openness is the reason the public fell in love with her on ‘Bake Off’, and it’s the reason she still has a legion of fans five years on since her win.

The theme that runs through ‘Happy Cooking’ is the part that food plays in how you feel and the impact it can have on your mood. Brown shares her own thoughts and experiences at the beginning of each section before offering a selection of mouth-watering savoury and sweet recipes, that even a novice cook could make a good stab at. Brown’s ethos here is to give you the tools to be able to make tasty and nutritious food, with recipes that are easy to adapt to your liking.

There are plenty of highlights throughout ‘Happy Cooking’, and things that will definitely inspire you. In ‘Quick pick-me-ups’ you’ll struggle to resist the wonderfully simple but incredibly tasty ‘Tortilla-crusted halloumi chips’ (I promise you they are yummy) and the ‘Ooozy gooey double chocolate one-pan cookies’ are an absolute treat that can be shared with the whole family. In the ‘Simple comforts’ section, Brown’s ‘Chicken sausage, butternut squash and burrata lasagna’ recipe is a nice twist on a family favourite while her ‘Ultimate chicken nuggets’ recipe will ensure you never pick up a bag of frozen nuggets from a supermarket ever again.

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In the ‘Keep-your-hands-busy cooking’, Brown shares her fantastic ‘Gingerbread house’ recipe (which can be customised for any season) and her ‘Mozzarella-stuffed burgers and deep-fried pickles’, will prove to be a popular addition to anyone’s cooking repertoire as they’re a much more attractive proposition than popping to your local McDonald’s. I’m also very partial to the deceptively easy ‘Bacon, cheese and chive croquettes’, which are addictive and absolutely delicious.

‘Food that takes care of itself (and you)’ puts the focus on the joy of slow-cooking (and the leftovers that’ll give you more than the one meal) with Brown sharing recipes for delicious dishes such as ‘Smoky bean chilli’, ‘Slow-cooked beef brisket in ale’ and even ‘stewed fruit’. My favourite section is ‘Nostalgia food’, a selection of recipes to bring back happy memories and boy does it succeed. With ideas ranging from roasts to traditional puddings, this is the section that’s definitely going to be thumbed through for future dinner parties and family get-togethers.

The book’s final section ‘Say it with cake’, goes back to Brown’s ‘Bake Off’ roots providing plenty of ideas for celebration cakes or just an indulgent pudding if you want to treat yourself. I dare you to look at her ‘Chocolate, caramel and banana drip cake’ and not want to dash into the kitchen to make it immediately, or her inventive ‘Double Decker brownie’, that pays homage to the classic chocolate bar by giving it a brownie twist.

Every recipe in the book is laid out beautifully with Brown’s clear instructions making it a simple process. All of the ingredients are easy enough to source from your local supermarket and there is plenty here to bookmark and have a go at. Brown’s warmth shines through on every page and her creativity is endless. It doesn’t matter what skill level you’re at as a cook, you will be able to make these recipes.

‘Happy Cooking’ is full of wonderful recipe ideas and it’s a must-have for anyone who enjoys spending time making delicious food. As we’ve come to expect from Brown, these recipes showcase her ability to put twists on familiar recipes as well as her ability to offer something unexpected that is a taste sensation. ‘Happy Cooking’ is a worthy follow-up to ‘Comfort’ and I hope there are many more books to come from Brown in the future.

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Publisher: Ebury Press Release date: 1st July 2021 Buy ‘Happy Cooking’ now

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